By Rohey Jadama
Magistrate Patrick Gomez of Kanifing Magistrates Court yesterday, 16th
June 2015, acquitted and discharged Mustapha Njie, the driver of the
taxi vehicle in which Binta Jarju was shot and killed.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) was represented by ASP Mballowwhile Lawyer Edward Gomez announced his appearance for the accused
Mr. Njie was charged with four counts of failure to stop when required
to stop, disobedience to lawful orders, rash or negligent act causing
death, and unlicensed driving.
He pleaded guilty to counts one and four and denied counts two and three.
Delivering the judgement in a crowded court room, the trial magistrate
said the prosecution must prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.
He said the prosecution called six witnesses and tendered exhibits to
prove its case.
Magistrate Gomez said both the defence and the prosecution addressed
the court and that the former relied heavily on the authopsy report,
whilst the latter relied on 7 authorities.
He said the accused in his testimony mentioned that he failed to stop at
the check point.
He said the ingredients to look for in convicting the accused are
whether death occured ? Did the accused cause the death ? and did his
negligence and action cause the death ? He added that the prosecution
bears a heavy burden to convince the court that the accused caused the
Magistrate Gomez further said that the prosecution did not state that
the driver was posing a danger or threat to them or the community. He
said the officers made a voluntary shot and that there was no threat
to them nor the community and that the autopsy report states that the
cause of death is head injury due to gunshot.
The trial magistrate said the prosecution failed to prove beyond
reasonable doubt that the accused caused the death of late Yabinta
He therefore ruled that the accused is acquitted and discharged on
count 3 and found guilty on count 2.
However, before the plea of mitigation of the lawyer for the accused,
ASP Mballow informed the court of their intention to appeal against
the acquital and discharge of the accused on count 3.
Prosecutor Mballow said section 285 (E) of the Criminal Procedure
Code(CPC) gives them the right to appeal. He asked the court to grant
bail to the accused pending their appeal.
In his plea of mitigation, Lawyer Gomez, counsel for the accused,
urged the court to take into account the following : that the accused
was driving a vehicle at a time he was not in possession of a driving
License nor wearing a seat belt ; that he was confronted by security
officers with weapons which frigthened his mind as it happened after
the abortive coup ; that there was fear in the minds of the people and
that there were numerous check points in the Greater Banjul Area.
Barrister Gomez added that the fleeing of the accused from the
officers was not to disregard what those officers were set to do. He
said the accused was remanded throughout the trial in Mile Two and
that during his remand period he has known the gravity of his offence
and he will make sure there is no repetition of it again.
He said the accused is a first time offender and that premised on the
above, he is humbly and sincerely urging the court to temper justice
with mercy and that when the court considers any form of punishment
let it not impose a custodial sentence on him but a fine that is
not excessive and punitive.
The trial magistrate in his judgment said in line with the application
of the prosecution, bail is granted to the accused in the sum of
D50.000 and the convict is ordered to produce two Gambian sureties.
In sentencing the accused on count 2 and after having considered the
mitigation plea of the defence counsel, the trial magistrate said the
6 months imprisonment of the accused is suspended but that when he
commits an offence within these six months he will be called upon to
serve the term. He ordered that the accused is to maintain the peace
during the six months.
Count one states that the accused, Mustapha Njie, on March 2015 at
Manjai in the Kanifing Municipality and diverse places in The Gambia,
was stopped at a security vehicle checkpoint by police officers in
uniform, but he refused to stop and drove away.
Count two stated that the accused on the same date and place was
ordered to stop at a security vehicle checkpoint by police officers in
uniform, which order he disobeyed.
Count three added that the accused on the same date and place drove
his motor vehicle, registration number BJL 7039G, in a rash or
negligent manner, causing the death of one Binta Jarju.
Count four stated that the accused on the same date and place drove a
motor vehicle, registration number BJL 7039G, without a valid license.
By Rohey Jadama